Four Winds Invitational begins FridayPublished 9:01am Wednesday, June 18, 2014
SOUTH BEND — The Symetra Tour, the Road to the LPGA, transitions to the state of Indiana for the third annual Four Winds Invitational at Blackthorn Golf Club this weekend.
The 144-player field will be competing for their share of the $150,000 total purse, the second largest purse on the tour this year.
First-round play begins on Friday and runs through Sunday.
The winner will receive $22,500 and take a significant step towards a top-10 finish on the Volvik Race for the Card money list, which guarantees full-time LPGA status in 2015.
Last year, Cydney Clanton outdueled Marissa Steen in an epic seven-hole playoff to hoist the trophy. Clanton went onto finish fifth on the Volvik Race for the Card money list and is now playing full-time on the LPGA Tour.
Steen, who ranks second on the Volvik Race for the Card money list this year, qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open and will therefore not be in the field this week.
Julia Boland won the inaugural Four Winds Invitational in 2012.
The Four Winds Invitational is the 12th event of 20 total events on the schedule, the most in 13 years. The Symetra Tour has grown from a 15-event Tour to a 20-event Tour in one year.
The total purse on Tour this year of $2.25 million is the largest in Tour history.
The Tour is in the midst of a four-week Midwest swing that started in Battle Creek, Michigan two weeks ago. Following the Four Winds Invitational, the swing wraps up at the Island Resort Championship in Harris, Michigan.
Stop two for the Potawatomi Cup
The Symetra Tour unveiled the Potawatomi Cup earlier this year, which awards Symetra Tour players a bonus based on performance at events sponsored by the four Potawatomi nations’ casinos. A total of $40,000 will be awarded, with $8,500 each week, and an additional $6,000 going to the Potawatomi Cup winner.
The incentive based points system will award the top-five players a cash bonus at each of the following events: the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship, the Four Winds Invitational, the Island Resort Championship and the Prairie Band Casino and Resort Charity Classic.
At the first leg of the Potawatomi Cup in Battle Creek, Min Seo Kwak won the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship and received an additional $3,000. Daniela Iacobelli finished second and received a bonus check for $2,500. Jean Reynolds finished solo third and received a check for $1,500. There was a four-way tie for fourth so Caroline Powers, Dawn Shockley, Pinrath Loomboonruang and Kendall Dye each received $375.
Potawatomi Cup Standings
1. Min Seo Kwak $3,000
2. Daniela Iacobelli $2,500
3. Jean Reynolds $1,500
4. Caroline Powers $375
Dawn Shockley $375
Pinrath Loomboonruang $375
Kendall Dye $375
The winner of the Four Winds Invitational will receive a check for $22,500, plus a $3,000 check through the Potawatomi Cup.
Two players with Notre Dame ties
The Four Winds Invitational will have a local feel with two former Notre Dame golfers in the field.
Becca Huffer and Noriko Nakazaki both played for the Fighting Irish and will compete in the Four Winds Invitational.
Huffer, who played at Notre Dame from 2008 through 2012, has played in six total events on the Symetra Tour.
“I’m excited to go back and play in South Bend and I’m looking forward to being back on campus,” said Huffer. “I have never played Blackthorn before so I’m excited to see it; I’ve heard it’s a good course.”
She received a sponsor exemption into the first event of the year and finished in a tie for third at the Visit Mesa Gateway Classic at Longbow Golf Club.
Due to her strong finish, Huffer has played in four consecutive events since the reshuffle.
“It’s been fun getting out here and playing every week, I have been waiting for that. Hopefully I have a good tournament out there (South Bend), I may put on my Notre Dame hat and try to capitalize on the atmosphere in South Bend.”
Huffer was an All-Big Eastg honoree all four years at Notre Dame. She was the Big East Rookie of the Year following the 2008-09 season. As a senior, Huffer led the Irish in scoring average (75.34), rounds in the 70s (27), top-10 finishes (4) and wins (1). She finished fifth at the BIG EAST Championship in 2012.
“I just loved the overall experience at Notre Dame, I had a lot of fun with my team. Getting to play college golf and be part of the Notre Dame athletic experience was just awesome. I feel like I’m headed back home to my second home.”